114 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Faregates”

  1. One awesome infographic by the free enterprise BCLiberals.

    I’d like to see a few here in Washington State. For instance, how come it takes so long to build light rail. For two, let’s show the state legislators how wonderful and vital Amtrak Cascades is.

    Off hot.

    1. Joe,

      Why do you feel entitled to a public transit way to get to Olympia in a reasonable time when you live so far away?

      1. Entitled? Hey, you and I pay taxes for mass transit and then we pay our fare.

        There you go.

        Oh and get a better handle!

      2. Fine. Different handle (but now it’s different from every other website I use, eh.)

        In terms of taxes for mass transit, we pay little to none specifically for long distance travel like Skagit county -> Oly. We pay income tax to the feds, which then allocate the revenue to essentially to whatever they want.

        The point I was getting to was more about why are we worrying about things like your use case (which is extremely uncommon) when there are much more pressing issues (say, KCM 8 fequency on weekends) that would help MANY more people at a far better bang/buck.

      3. Why shouldn’t a ridership corridor representing over a third of the state’s population have a non-personal-vehicle quick way to get to the Capitol? They’re conducting *our* business.

        If PT can pay for Gig Harbor commuters to get an ST Express to Seattle, then IT, PT, Metro, ST, WSDOT, and USDOT can put their heads together to invest in traffic relief on I-5. I recall rumors that ST 592 might soon extend to Olympia. Why not have IT pay into that, and cancel most of the 600-series runs? Besides, the 592 has plenty of seats to spare. I think an affordable solution is right under our noses.

      4. Oh, and cancel the Legislative Express. Put legislators and aides who ride public transit to Olywood at the mercy of the system everyone else has to use.

      5. I know a legislator who takes transit from the Seattle area down to Oly, and I’ve done it myself many times for trips. Getting from downtown 6:10AM Sounder connection to the 7:12AM Oly Express isn’t bad…it’s just getting downtown and other times when the trip is annoying and involves long waits.

      6. Schuyler – indeed, that’s why I pay business class fare. Nice pick of a handle so you have a name.

        BTW, what is KCM 8 frequency?

        Brent – thank you, we the people deserve an accessible means to get to our legislators. Currently I can’t get a meeting with a state rep because he doesn’t have an office in county that he eliminated due to the Recession. Note the “in county” part.

        Bellevue Resident – thank you, for me to make that option, I’d have to get on the 1st SKAT shuttle to Everett, the 1st Sounder from Everett to Seattle, then hop the last Seattle to Tacoma Sounder and then hop a bus to Olympia to arrive at 9:15. If I ever win the lotto and become a state legislator before turning 65, I can tell you I shall use transit & form a transit user caucus.

    2. Fiscally stupid, to spend 171m to save 7m/year. Operating costs are not included yet. More fare inspections and enforceable fines would actually do the trick at an actual surplus compared to the current situation.

      TransLink did audits in 2004 and 2008 that showed annual losses to fare evasion on the rapid transit system were between $5 million and $9 million. But another TransLink report from 2005 showed that yearly operations and installation costs for the system amortized over 20 years would be $30 million annually.

      But the faregate decision was imposed on Translink and since then they have been engaged in a program of “communication” designed to put the best possible spin on it. I think this goes beyond what a public sector agency should be required to do. They could just put up with it, and get on with their job as best they can. But then they get sucked into these bogus “announcements” and “events” which are just political posturing. The politicians have absolutely no shame at all.

      http://stephenrees.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/faregate-more-information/

      Hence, the “infographics”.

      1. When I attended one of the King County Council’s meetings on the Congestion Reduction Charge, a low information voter (also a first responder) suggested that Metro was wasting $100+ million in fare evasion. It was a laughable claim and was fact checked by @Oranv who tweeted that Metro’s annual fare loss is about $3 million.

        The larger point is that for a percentage of the population, usually those with conservative or libertarian leanings, the idea that someone gets a “free ride” or is gaming the system amounts to theft from them. Unfortunately, this creates a political backlash.

        It would appear to me that the level of fare evasion that is occurring in that service level has attracted negative political attention. So, politicians do what they do and make political problems go away. Besides, some lucky dog company gets the benefit of chomping at the public trough on those contracts.

        Oh, really impressive ridership numbers for a metropolitan region of similar size to Seattle’s.

    3. “how come it takes so long to build light rail”

      Oh, I don’t know, Save Our Valley, Kemper Freeman, Kevin Wallace, recession tax shortfalls, the fact that much of it is underground. Streetcars only take a year or two; viz. the SLUT, FHS, Tacoma Link. The EIS process also takes years. Canada and other countries have more of an ability to dictate what will happen, which speeds up the process.

      1. Don’t forget to mention the delay to the start of building the Initial Segment light rail caused by the U.S. DOT Inspector General and the U.S. Secretary of Transportation after a Federal audit ordered by Congress in early 2001 revealed there wasn’t enough funding in the 1996 Sound Move Plan to build the Capitol Hill tunnel by 2006. The led to the FTA wanting more reassurances on the viability of the line to Tukwila.

        I’ve been told, by the way, that the FTA-mandated Before and After Study on the Initial Segment + Airport is to be released later this month by Sound Transit.

    1. In theory, that’s what makes RapidRide “Rapid” or at least “Rapider”… But until they get ORCA readers at the curb the best we can hope for is a bit faster ride from giving people the ability to exit the back doors while others pay at the front and come up with a workable system to deal with back door fare evasion. Sigh…

      1. I propose that KCM be fare-free and solely funded through property tax and sales tax monies. Then, all fare evasion is a non-issue.

      2. Making buses free has several problems:

        1) Fares make up about 25% of Metro’s revenue. If you give it up, where do you make up the difference? Fare revenue is also good in that it always goes up when ridership goes up and is not at the mercy of the political whims of the day.

        2) Free buses will be inevitably be used as roving homeless shelters (just ride the buses in circles all day – at least it’s sheltered and heated). This will turn off people who actually use the buses to get somewhere.

        3) Make fares free and you’ll end up with lots of overcrowding, particularly for short trips that people could easily walk, but happen to see a bus coming, so they hop on because it’s free. This will make buses slower and more crowded. And, of course, there will be no money available to raise service levels to meet this new, higher demand.

        Free fares work well in places like Whidbey Island or national parks, where very few people will ever want to ride the bus even if it is free. But it unfortunately doesn’t work in big cities.

  2. Remember my complaint about the waterfront ferris wheel’s obnoxious rave/disco ball lights that were going to be a blight on the waterfront and our fair city? Week after week I’ve passed the wheel at night and it’s been sedate, so I started to wonder if the crazy lights might be OK on holidays and during other special events. Well, last night I went by and the wheel was in full psychedelic mode and, honestly, it looked pretty good. Not something I’d like to see every night on the waterfront, but on holidays and for special events (Mariners win the World Series!) I think it would be great to have a wacky, spasmodic ferris wheel lighting up the waterfront.

    1. The night view of the stadiums and Ferris wheel is spectacular from the Route 36 or 60 bus on 12th Avenue northbound by Pacific Medical Center. Saturday night, Century Link Field and the Ferris wheel were lit up in Purple/Gold for the Husky football game.

  3. Is this particular system 100% tap-reliable? I’d kinda suspect that tapping when riders get on a bus and again when they get off whould work only if there are very very very few mis-fires and tap failures.

    Also, do almost all of their 1600 buses have three doors? (Since they have 4752 card readers). Just wondering.)

      1. The many- a lot more than 48- trolleys have but two doors, so I find the number to be a little bit high. I am unaware of any vehicles with more than three doors.

  4. Great graphic. Interesting decision to switch from POP to fare gates in Vancouver. I found an article in the Vancouver Sun that explains that they’re spending $171 (Canadian, obviously) with projected savings of $7.1 million from reduced fare evasion in 2014. The article also talks about additional penalties for fare evasion including a requirement to pay transit fines prior to drivers’ license or car registration renewal.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/Faregates+threaten+Transit+police+jobs/7086362/story.html

    1. So they are “taking in” 7 million per annum on an initial payout to Cubic in San Diego of 171 million??

      Brilliant.

      That’ll pay off in how many decades? (171 divided by 7 is 24.4)

      Oh, and about those Cubic faregates…

      http://youtu.be/Tp5-DKWTh_Y

    2. Not all of TransLink’s $171 million project budget is for faregates. About $100 million is for the new Compass card electronic fare payment system, which will work with the faregates, card validators on West Coast express and with the mobile readers on buses.

  5. What a pathetic, 3rd world nation system this ‘SkyTrain’ is, with only 404,000 daily boardings for a measly 49 stations.
    That’s an average of 8,257 daily boardings per station which is only half as many as our own Northgate Station will have. Lynnwood will also blow apart any ridership numbers that BC can muster.
    Maybe we can export some of our leading edge thinking to help our neighbors out in this time of crisis for them.

      1. Revealing inconvenient truths w/ legitimate numerical comparison = trolling.

        Okay, I think I finally get how the Washingtonian brain works. Thanks, Cascadian.

      2. Yes, I’ve tried logic in the past to get some critical thinking going around here to no avail. Maybe some extreme satire will do the trick.
        It’s not acceptable to just accept false assumptions when they even fail the ‘Giggle Test’. How can transit resources be logically deployed when the planning is so compromised by political and large business interests in keeping the money machine going? Try adding up all the money paid in contracts to consulting firms and attorneys and bond brokers since 1996.
        Yes, I’ll take being called a Troll anyday, rather than a ‘Head-in-the-Sands’ supporter.

      3. I just don’t think it accomplishes much to call a transit system third-world and make a bunch of unfair comparisons to another transit system that doesn’t exist yet.

      4. 1. You should probably grab a dictionary, look up “irony”, and the re-read (mic)’s original post.

        2. What does it accomplish to charge full-speed-ahead into a project based on painfully flawed numerical assumptions and mistaken understandings of how successful transit works? Or to indulge the powers that make terrible errors, so as to encourage them to make more?

        3. Washington State is populated by the most pervasively logic- and fact-challenge human beings I have ever encountered in my life. Including those considered “educated” and/or “successful”. Grow a thicker skin.

      5. I don’t know if you have the superpower of reading sarcasm in text or are the same person as mic, but I don’t really see how one is supposed to realize that that is irony. As for charging “full-speed ahead” into a project allegedly based on “painfully-flawed numerical assumptions,” the project isn’t due to be completed until 2023, the last time I checked. And the numerical assumptions don’t really seem that flawed to me (at least not painfully). According to mic, two bus routes could make up half the expected ridership. If you factor in rail bias, network effect, and combined use, it doesn’t seem that unreasonable to me to expect something close to 15,000 daily boardings.
        As for Washington State, we are ranked the #9 smartest state by CNN Money, and have the University of Washington, which is the #10 Public University according to US News. But it’s especially rude and, well, stupid to go on a website frequented by Washingtonians and insist that we are fact-challenged and anti-logic.

        Also, I bet your state is stupider.

        (That last sentence was irony.)

      6. I also just read a study by the American Public Transportation Association, which stated that “rail transit is likely to attract from 34 percent to 43 percent more riders than will equivalent bus service.” Considering there isn’t even a bus route that goes on the future Link route (which I personally think is more attractive), I think it’s very likely that Link boardings in Northgate could be high.

      7. 15,000 would make it among the best-used single rapid transit stations in the United States.

        15,000 would be nearly as many boardings as some of the busiest stations in Boston, D.C., or Chicago, all cities with 10 times the subway usage that anyone expects to ever see in Seattle.

        But you “think it’s very likely…”

        Let’s just add “research-challenged” to “logic- and fact-challenged”, shall we?

      8. Washington, D.C. has 16 stations which receive more than 15,000 weekday riders, out of 86 total stations. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Washington_Metro_stations) And this is a system where a much larger fraction of the stations is outside the city proper than with Link. I couldn’t find comprehensive ridership-per-stop data for Boston, but I assume it would be somewhat similar, though with less ridership per station as they have far more stations. Also, whereas Boston and D.C. have metro systems that frequently stop every few blocks. This causes each station to have a more limited radius of ridership, whereas Northgate, as a transit center, could draw walkers, bus riders, and park ‘n’ riders from Haller Lake, Maple Leaf, Licton Springs, and potentially even Greenwood, and receive riders destined to the mall, the local community college, or (though further away and less likely) the new hospital. While metro stations in city centers suffer from “rider cannibalism,” Northgate station would have a monopoly.

        Keep in mind, also, that Seattle has a larger city population than either Washington, D.C. or Boston. I’ll admit it has a significantly lower metro area population than D.C. or Boston, but in the end it’s really those closest to the city center that matter most for public transportation ridership. Seattle, also, had the highest public transportation ridership of any U.S. city without rapid transportation (before Link), so I wouldn’t say that Seattle has one tenth of the potential subway usage as Boston. In 2005, the average weekday boarding on the Boston subway was 628,400, which is not even ten times as much as Portland. I find it hard to believe that “no-one” thinks it’s remotely possible that we could get up to 62,840 weekday boardings, especially since we’re nearly halfway there with a half-finished rail system in a recession.

      9. I will try to keep my snider tendencies from spilling over into abject frustration, but a number of your statements leave me speechless.

        And this is a system where a much larger fraction of the stations is outside the city proper than with Link.

        The D.C. Metro has 38 stations within the District proper, and another 8 or 9 in Arlington and Alexandria. While the other half of the system was designed to (and does) serve a commuter purpose, these 46 stops allow you access to nearly anywhere and everywhere that you could possibly want or need to go as either an urban user or a suburban daytripper.

        Link can get you to the U-District, to a single part of Capitol Hill, to downtown, to the Rainier Valley, and to multiple malls for some reason.

        There isn’t even a comparison to be made here.

        This causes each station to have a more limited radius of ridership.

        Yes. Having near-total walkshed coverage within the urban area is so “limiting” for potential riders.

        Seattle has a larger city population than either Washington, D.C. or Boston. I’ll admit it has a significantly lower metro area population than D.C. or Boston, but in the end it’s really those closest to the city center that matter most for public transportation ridership.

        Boston’s contiguous urban area includes the entire neighboring cities of Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, Everett, Chelsea, Revere, and Quincy, as well as much or most of Brookline, Watertown, Arlington, Malden, and Milton. This urban area contains between 1.5 and 2 million.

        The contiguous urban area of Washington, D.C. spills over its borders as well, containing well over a million.

        You would have to significantly mutilate the English language to suggest that even half of Seattle proper’s 620,000 people live within such an urban area. But we do have some urban area; we’re just barely serving it!

        In 2005, the average weekday boarding on the Boston subway was 628,400.

        Portland, though not perfect, is the most successful of the late-20th-century American experiments in rail building. See: Dallas, Denver, Sacramento if you want to understand what happens when you build completely useless, anti-urban crap.

        It’s also worth noting that Boston’s Green Line light rail (whose stop spacing you decry) by itself carries far more people than Sound Transit’s highball estimate of 175,000-200,000 for a completed ST2.

        Again, “network effects” do nothing when you have a crappy network.

      10. Seattle has a larger city population than either Washington, D.C. or Boston. I’ll admit it has a significantly lower metro area population than D.C. or Boston, but in the end it’s really those closest to the city center that matter most for public transportation ridership.

        This was your statement and should have been italicized. I would never write anything that so clearly smacks of “never left Seattle before”-ness.

        Again: D.C.’s urban area exceeds, and Boston’s vastly exceed, their respective city limits. Seattle’s doesn’t even come close to reaching its borders.

        They serve their urban areas well; we skip by ours to get to Lynnwood.

      11. If your point is that the proposed overall light rail system for Seattle is too suburban, then I agree with you. But when you say that Northgate is not a worthwhile stop, I definitely disagree with you. It is already a destination and has the potential for great TOD.
        First off, you imply that the 40 or so stops outside of the district are justified because they “allow you access to nearly anywhere and everywhere that you could possibly want or need to go as either an urban user or a suburban daytripper.” As a Seattleite (who doesn’t even go to Northgate that often), I would definitely count Northgate on the list of places that anyone would possibly want or need to go.
        And by the way, by the time Northgate Link (or whatever they’re calling it now) is in place, it will serve all that you listed as well as three major sports stadiums, an airport, and the International District (though I could understand if you counted that as part of downtown). Once the Broadway Streetcar is in place (technically the First Hill Streetcar–but really, come on) which will be two years ahead of the Capitol Hill station, it will, by connection, serve almost all of Broadway, as well as, by connection, large parts of South Lake Union.
        My point on a limited radius of ridership is that it’s illogical to project station ridership based on the population of a certain area around the station, since stations in less populated areas have further reaches than ones in more populated areas, which compete for riders. Please read my original statement again, I obviously don’t think that having more stations is bad for riders.
        When I said that we technically have a larger city population, I did not mean that we actually have a larger population, as I acknowledged in the sentence after it. But we do have an urban area that’s at least on the same order of magnitude as the cities we’re talking about. Boston has an urban population of about 4,000,000, while Seattle has an urban population of about 2,700,000. I’ll admit I’ve never been to Boston, but as for “never leaving Seattle-ness,” I visit both Vancouver and Portland several times a year. I also spend several weeks each year, and used to visit D.C. almost quarterly. In each of these cities, I almost always use public transportation (especially Paris).
        I don’t think Light Rail should go to Lynnwood (at least not for a long time), and I don’t think it should go to Issaquah, or be extended all the way to Tacoma. But it should go to Northgate. It should go to Bellevue. But it should also go to West Seattle and Greenwood and Ballard and Lower Queen Anne (or Uptown, or whatever you want to call it). A metro rail system built like that of D.C.’s or Boston’s wouldn’t be possible largely because of our geography. If we want a rail system to stop every three or four blocks, I think streetcars are unfortunately our best bet.

      1. It’s a system that is generating over 400,000 daily boardings compared to our initial system serving 25,000.
        We are plowing billions into a system based on trumped up numbers that even the PSRC’s modeling say is half as many at best.
        15,000 for Northgate, next to a freeway, a medium sized mall, with limited walkshed, no provision for intercepting buses off I-5, and no increase in parking over today. Where will they all come from?
        The 41 (7600 daily boardings) of which 78% board north of Northgate. Many get off before U-dist, Broadway or DSTT, so maybe 5,000 per day at best.
        Or the 66/67 which is mostly a neighborhood route with its 3826 daily boardings.
        On the one hand, we’re justifying massive outlays of cash and future indebtedness on a line that will probably only generate half the riders it claims.
        Simultaneously, we are cannibalizing several good bus transit agencies because of a recession and maxed out sales tax sources. Another shoe drops on this blog nearly every week, showing the symptoms of transit agencies unable to fulfill there missions, much less expand service to meet rising populations and demands. Pathetic RR rollouts, depleted reserve funds, route and service reductions, standing room only buses out the kazoo.
        The Puget Sound is Robbing Peter to pay Paul – simple as that.
        I wouldn’t care so much if we were given good information to make choices, but clinging to false hopes at the expense of lost opportunities just seems DUMB.

      2. So… was one of your posts sarcastic? I can’t really tell what stance you’re actually trying to take. This is the internet, so you can’t just say something you think sounds ridiculous and expect it not to be taken seriously. Also, calculating light rail ridership by bus ridership isn’t really that accurate, because of network effects, TOD, rail bias, and combined use.

      3. Good Point. I love Vancouver.
        “…so you can’t just say something you think sounds ridiculous and expect it not to be taken seriously.”
        humm… thinking out loud, maybe you can get away with ridiculous ridership & cost/benefit ratios.
        I’m going to ask Jesse. He’s the only one left around here asking hard questions.

      4. mic – by your own numbers, Northgate station generating half the riders it claims who mean that no one will ride the train, except for those taking the 41 today. Are you seriously suggesting that the faster, more reliable ride the train will offer will attract zero marginal riders over the existing bus route? And attract zero riders going to the U-district?

      5. The main reason Link’s estimates are overshots is that the train goes too few places to be useful to many intermediate riders.

        This is also why protestations of “network effect” fall flat: Link’s network involves Mercer Island and South SeaTac, but omits all the other parts of Seattle that people are actually trying to go, which will still require head-up-keister Metro.

        This depresses the “rail bias ridership bump”; most would still rather drive than deal with the Metro nightmare. Building a City Bypass Express is thus an exercise in idiocy.

        Not every 41 rider today uses it to go downtown or to transfer to Roosevelt or the U-District, so you can’t just presume every one of those riders is a “future Link user”. Ditto the 66, which serves many places for which Link has made itself quite useless.

        To make (Mic) original point unironically and explicitly clear: Vancouver has built a system that works — a system that gets you quickly throughout the city and inner metro area, but with walkshed-maximizing spacing and really good connecting transit — and yet its numbers somehow fall short of Sound Transit’s fantasyland figures for its lousy system that emulates every failed system in the United States.

      6. Only a tiny percentage of the 41 riders today are using it to just shuttle between Lake City and Northgate – the route is designed for what the vast majority of the people are using it for, and that is to go downtown. And there is absolutely no reason why anybody taking the 41 downtown today would not greatly prefer Link instead.

        As to the 66/67, a large percentage of the riders on that line are going either Northgate->U-district or Roosevelt->downtown. Not because the 66/67 are super-fast for those trips, but because there today simply isn’t anything better available. Granted, most of the 66/67 riders probably aren’t going all the way to Northgate (Roosevelt station will likely draw more 66/67 riders than Northgate will), there are also people who will take the train from Northgate to the U-district who drive it today because the 66/67 is too slow.

        I will agree, the proposed ridership numbers probably are a bit inflated, but I don’t think it’s as much as you claim.

      7. “Simultaneously, we are cannibalizing several good bus transit agencies because of a recession and maxed out sales tax sources. Another shoe drops on this blog nearly every week, showing the symptoms of transit agencies unable to fulfill there missions, much less expand service to meet rising populations and demands. Pathetic RR rollouts, depleted reserve funds, route and service reductions, standing room only buses out the kazoo.
        The Puget Sound is Robbing Peter to pay Paul – simple as that.”

        The bus agencies’ problems have nothing to do with Link. The lack of Link aggrevates the problems and expenses these agencies face. Because there’s no Northgate-downtown subway or Lynnwood-downtown rapid transit, hundreds of buses pathetically try to fill the gap and just barely succeed: often overcrowded, late, bunching, burning gas in stop-and-go traffic, and not frequent enough to be an attractive alternative to driving off-peak. Add to that angry riders who are just barely tolerating the experience. Sometimes you have to pay a big capital expense to make a long-term improvement in the city’s quality of life.

        Metro’s and CT’s problems are ultimately caused by a legislature that refuses to give them a revenue stream to make up what they lost in sales taxes since the 2008 crash, or to increase service to meet demand (both current demand and the pent-up demand that’s waiting for more frequent transit).

    1. Hey, I’m gonna move this discussion to a new thread–it’s getting annoying having to scroll down for 10 seconds every time I want to check what someone said.

    1. Actually, that’s a funny story. A third of the city vehemently insisted that the wheels be 10 cm forward, while another third furiously demanded that the wheels be 10 cm back, and the other third complained that they didn’t want their tax dollars to fund a “war on cars.” Such is the story of public transportation.

  6. Ahh, Mercer, now with a pleasant “wait … wait” soundtrack, two other pedestrians, and cars eventually stopped at an empty expanse, the three jaywalkers having long since moved on. You would think they could at least tie the walk symbol with the passing of the SLUT, given that cars are mostly good at stopping for that, but no. Oh, and don’t be a slow walker, or be prepared to tarry in the median, given the somewhat quick countdown.

  7. Could someone please explain how the loading and unloading is going to work downtown after the elimination of the RFA? People will have to get off through the back door, but can only get on through the front door? But people can still get off through the front door if they want? And the driver will be unable to prevent people getting on through the open back door, correct? And with RapidRide, C and D lines, won’t they be using all three doors to load and unload?

    1. I take it this is rhetorical after the post just a couple days ago.

      I don’t suppose anyone could describe how other bus systems with smart cards and multiple-door buses make use of their infrastructure investment. Given that only three bus agencies in the country afflict themselves with a ride free zone, this ought to be a matter of sending the right people on junkets to the right cities (which would be every other bus system with a smart card).

      1. Ironically, SF Muni is the only US bus system that has a smart card and employs proof-of-payment. And yet, they have the slowest bus system in the country.

      2. Slowest by miles-per-hour, perhaps, largely on account of lights and traffic in a very dense city. But being as SF is compact, it doesn’t rank anywhere near the bottom in “ability to get you most placed you need to go in a reasonable amount of time thanks to a network of frequent radial + grid-oriented trunk routes”. It certainly ranks higher than us on that front!

        Anyway, the all-door boarding on Muni is brand new, and complements a program of stop deletions and other efficiency improvements. That “slowest system” distinction is likely headed into the dustbin of history.

      3. I was in SanFran two years ago staying in the downtown Hilton. I convinced my son who was with me to take the bus crosstown to see Haight Asbury and have some lunch (we a car in the hotel parking garage).

        He preferred driving but I thought we’d “see the city” on a bus. First of all much of SF is more like a beat up old East Coast city like Philly than a modern wide Western city. The streets are old. The buses are old. It reminded me of the days back in Queens when my Mom would drag me shopping on the Q10 Green Bus Line. People, characters, got on and off at what seemed like a stop every two blocks. It was hard not to think 3rd world as they were carrying packages under both arms from the budget stores on Market street. I remember one guy with one of those grey handbag sized cassette recorders and biggy big headphones.

        We finally made it there and had a good time walking the Haight although it did take quite some time to get there. Later on we drove back in the car and it was not very far at all and easily found on street parking!

        Like Seattle, although you hear much about transit, lots of people seem to have cars, drive and park. “Downtown” SF is small…comparatively, to the very dispersed neighborhoods around it (again, like Queens…although the core seemed relatively much smaller).

        For those who haven’t been or who haven’t explored outside the tourist areas..SF is not what you think!

      4. Suburban Tourist With No Knowledge Of Local Geography Ignores Nearby Subway, Takes Bus Through City’s Most Downtrodden Corridor, Declares Entire City “Beat Up”, Warns Outsiders About “Characters”… Film at 11!

      5. John,

        I’m confused why you would choose to spend your trip to northwest-central California in a place like San Francisco, when you could be visiting beautiful Kent-like suburbs like San Jose.

      6. Faster still would likely be to hop on a bike. If only it were possible for an out-of-towner to rent a bike for a short trip for less than a taxi would cost.

      7. Actually, I think the 71 Haight-Noriega bus is pretty ideal. It takes twenty minutes from downtown to the end of the Haight, about what you’d expect for a satellite urban neighborhood. It comes every 10-15 minutes so you never have to wait long. And it has a limited-stop overlay, although it runs only peak hours. I would replace it with rail since it’s so popular (the N is on a quieter street a few blocks away, as if we had a streetcar on 8th NW rather than on University Way where the people are).

        Haight Street and Geary Boulevard are what first got me thinking about how beneficial a limited-stop overlay is. Haight has two-level service: the 71 and 71L. Geary has three-level service, the 38, 38L and 38X. Add to that MLK in the East Bay (BART and a shadow bus), and the subways in Manhattan.

  8. @d.p.

    If your point is that the proposed overall light rail system for Seattle is too suburban, then I agree with you. But when you say that Northgate is not a worthwhile stop, I definitely disagree with you. It is already a destination and has the potential for great TOD.
    First off, you imply that the 40 or so stops outside of the district are justified because they “allow you access to nearly anywhere and everywhere that you could possibly want or need to go as either an urban user or a suburban daytripper.” As a Seattleite (who doesn’t even go to Northgate that often), I would definitely count Northgate on the list of places that anyone would possibly want or need to go.
    And by the way, by the time Northgate Link (or whatever they’re calling it now) is in place, it will serve all that you listed as well as three major sports stadiums, an airport, and the International District (though I could understand if you counted that as part of downtown). Once the Broadway Streetcar is in place (technically the First Hill Streetcar–but really, come on) which will be two years ahead of the Capitol Hill station, it will, by connection, serve almost all of Broadway, as well as, by connection, large parts of South Lake Union.
    My point on a limited radius of ridership is that it’s illogical to project station ridership based on the population of a certain area around the station, since stations in less populated areas have further reaches than ones in more populated areas, which compete for riders. Please read my original statement again, I obviously don’t think that having more stations is bad for riders.
    When I said that we technically have a larger city population, I did not mean that we actually have a larger population, as I acknowledged in the sentence after it. But we do have an urban area that’s at least on the same order of magnitude as the cities we’re talking about. Boston has an urban population of about 4,000,000, while Seattle has an urban population of about 2,700,000. I’ll admit I’ve never been to Boston, but as for “never leaving Seattle-ness,” I visit both Vancouver and Portland several times a year. I also spend several weeks each year, and used to visit D.C. almost quarterly. In each of these cities, I almost always use public transportation (especially Paris).
    I don’t think Light Rail should go to Lynnwood (at least not for a long time), and I don’t think it should go to Issaquah, or be extended all the way to Tacoma. But it should go to Northgate. It should go to Bellevue. But it should also go to West Seattle and Greenwood and Ballard and Lower Queen Anne (or Uptown, or whatever you want to call it). A metro rail system built like that of D.C.’s or Boston’s wouldn’t be possible largely because of our geography. If we want a rail system to stop every three or four blocks, I think streetcars are unfortunately our best bet.

    1. Upon re-reading my own original statement, I realized that I did imply that Seattle could have a larger public transportation ridership base than Boston or D.C. That is not true and I rescind that implication.

      1. I can only reply in brief(-ish); I have to get up early and leave lots of extra time tomorrow because Labor Day is one of Metro’s worst days of the year for routes that go to or past Bumbershoot. (Sunday-level service plus lots of clueless cash-payers. Good thing RapidRide is getting full off-board payment. Oh, wait, right.)

        proposed overall light rail system for Seattle is too suburban… I don’t think Light Rail should go to Lynnwood (at least not for a long time)…

        It actually sounds like we agree on much more than we disagree on, in which case I’m sorry for lumping you in with the “full speed ahead to Everett” and “2-mile stop spacing is a great compromise” crowd. And I’m sorry for letting rip at you with the frustration that is really aimed at those forces.

        I’ve actually never objected to Northgate, or even to Bellevue/Overlake. I’ve just objected to the way everything so far has been built to facilitate commuter activity at the expense of everything in between. The trip to Northgate wouldn’t suffer if a shallow line had been built with 3 stops in Capitol Hill. Lynnwood might complain, but who cares? Lynnwood’s numbers are the most ludicrously inflated, and no matter what Seattle Exceptionalists try to claim, spontaneous travel doesn’t happen at those distances. You moved to Lynnwood; why the hell did you expect a bullet train?

        (Mic) doesn’t object to our nascent subway either; he just takes an even more vocal position against building it the way we’re building it, and lambastes the manipulation of ridership estimates that underpin those decisions. I think his skeptical contributions to the discourse are totally valid.

        The central argument you seem to be making is that “node”-based transit, with wide areas from which to hypothetically draw riders, can actually see much higher ridership per stop than “corridor”-based transit with much more complete walkshed coverage but with overlaps in each station’s individual walkshed.

        This can only be true if the system as a whole is good enough to get people to use it in the first place, and this is where node-based systems invariably miss the mark. If you have to itemize the available destinations and make your modal calculations based upon that, there’s a much greater chance you’ll wind up in your car. If the available destinations include “everything in that direction”, the train is much more likely to become your default.

        In addition, connecting transit in node-based systems is invariably worse, because connecting vehicles all must divert toward or through the hub, which is time-consuming. Corridor-based connections can be perpendicular and straight.

        Every corner cut, every station skipped, every connection made sub-optimal is another bunch of “estimated” riders who choose to stick with their cars. Do you really think the awkward Broadway Streetcar is going to attract one single new rider who wouldn’t already be inclined to use transit today?

        Like (mic), I’m tired of hearing that spending billions of dollars on useless crap is a “political necessity”, when Ballard’s liable to get stuck with a streetcar over the Fremont Bridge and Metro thinks multi-minute on-board payment processes make for a “rapid” ride. I’ve more or less abandoned my optimism that Seattle is every going to overcome its “pathological inability to learn from [the experiences of] other cities” (to use a memorable phrase coined by another STB commenter). The least I can do is try to convince well-intentioned people who are more committed to spending their lives in Seattle than I am not to compound the present mistakes.

        (p.s. I see that in your later comparison of urban areas, you’ve pulled the Metropolitan Statistical Area figures. Those are highly useful for economic analyses, and the areas contained in them tend to be best understood as regions with unmistakable bonds of labor and commerce connecting each primary city and its satellite entities (be they Tacoma or Duvall, which are both included in ours). MSA figure, though, are only useful for defining “urban extent” except in the loosest way (built vs not), and offer no other information about development patterns, non-commercial human movements, or real or potential transit connectivity. For that, you need to define what I called the “contiguous urban area”, or the “urban extent”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_area This is harder to define and thus harder to track — though European cities always seem to have measured and comparable numbers. But the results can be illuminating. As I said before, Boston has almost 2 million in its urban area — 3 times the population of the city proper. Seattle’s suburban-sprawl-in-the-city, on the other hand, means that we have an urban extent smaller than our 600,000 population might imply.)

      2. Director Fazel is very forthcoming about what ridership will look like in 2030. He’ll be retired and long gone by then.
        I wonder if his crystal ball would generate some 1st and second year projections for all 21 new stations opening up between than and now.
        At least most of us will still be around by then, and maybe him too.
        Until then, I’ll remain skeptical.
        15,000 boardings for the Lynnwood P&R? That’s 100 packed buses arriving per hour during the 3 hour peak commute period or double the number of buses that travel through the DSTT today. Or maybe it’s all the cars veering off I-5 to fill up the mega parking garages that aren’t in the plans.
        How about it Mr. Fazel, are you up for sharing how you get to 280,000 riders by 2030, or is this just another leap of faith.
        ps, I’m sure the PSRC would love the insight, so they can update their flawed model which only shows half of what you claim.
        … We’re waiting…

      3. Sorry, d.p., but 3 stops in capitol hill is ridiculous. With the one stop we have, most of capitol hill is already within walking distance of either that station, or downtown itself. North capitol hill is not dense enough to warrant it’s own stop, and residents there can always hop on a bike or the #49 bus instead.

        You can’t expect everything in capitol hill to be right next to a Link station. People have feet, and to get to most places, people will need to use them. If feet are too slow for the last-mile portion of the trip, hop on a bike, scooter, or skateboard, or (if you’re lucky enough to happen to see one coming) a connecting bus.

        There’s a fundamental issue of what scale of distances we want our core transit lines to serve. Target trips to short and you’re competing more with biking and walking than with driving. Target trips too long and you end up with a line that is only useful to people living in the suburbs and useless to anyone living in the city. We need something in between and I believe stops a mile or two apart strikes this balance reasonably well.

        Yes, it would be possible to add a couple more stops, perhaps Maple Leaf, without bloating travel times too much. But even then, if the added money to build those extra stations were to mean we can’t run our trains as frequently, or we can’t build the Ballard Spur in the future, I would say it’s not worth it. Like it or not, station construction for any form of true grade-separated transit is not cheap, as has to factor into the decision calculations.

      4. Mmmmm… hmmmm… Ben.

        That’s about 50,000-80,000 higher than Sound Transit is willing to claim in any of its official spindocuments… for 2030 or even 2050.

        It includes segments (Federal Way) that he knows are unlikely to be built anytime soon, and which almost nobody is going to actually ride if it ever does get built.

        And it no doubt includes the crazy estimates of 80,000 riders on the Lynnwood extension, with the magical new downtown the LTC intends to sprout.

        Did you know that ST’s own claims for 2030 have East Link maxing out at 47,000-50,000 riders? Even I think that’s a shockingly low number, but perhaps it will be even fewer if East has been subject to the same estimate-inflation as North and South.

        I have no idea why Ahmad Fazel has taken to the Daily Journal of Commerce to spin the prior spin into some sort of mega-spin, but I imagine he must be quite dizzy.

      5. p.s. BART.

        You know, that commuter experiment masquerading as a heavy-rail transit system down in the Bay Area. 40 years of doing it wrong (in exactly the same ways we’re about to).

        BART has five branches, operates in a metropolitan area of twice the population, has two major cities at its core, provides the alternative to a much more congested bridge than ours, and has been open for 40 years.

        Daily ridership is only 379,000.

        But if Ahmad Fazel says we’ll achieve 75% of that… on our even less useful system… of three lines… in our much smaller region… nearly as soon as it open… who am I to argue? Right?

      6. 3 stops in Capitol Hill is ridiculous…

        With a deep bore and exorbitant stations, yes. With a normal subway… well, that would just be a normal subway: stop at Pine, stop at Aloha, stop at Boston.

        Most of Capitol Hill is NOT served. I shudder to think how many will still drive to and from most of the Hill even after your mega-spaced line is complete.

      7. Long-term, driverless taxis will eventually be able to fill in 1-2 mile the gaps between home and Link stations for those that are unable or unwilling to walk or bike, and it will do so with a quality of service much better than a bus route ever could for the relatively low-density neighborhood. While the technology is not available for this right now, Link is a long-term investment and when the technology is available, Link will still be there. And when this happens, cost and traffic congestion will provide plenty of reason for people to take a driverless taxi to Link vs. take it all the way to the destination.

        In the meantime, people who live at the top of the hill can walk or bike to Capitol Hill Station. And if some people want to think they’re too out of shape to handle it and, hence need to drive all the way, it’s their money that’s paying for it and it’s their problem that they stay out of shape.

        The neighborhood around Aloha is a quiet residential neighborhood and there is nowhere we could have built a station without the construction zone completely destroying it. Look how big the pit is at capitol hill and UW station and imagine the impact of such a pit (plus all the truck traffic) if you did the same thing up on Aloha. Nor am I sure a shallower tunnel would have worked. Deep bore means you don’t impact anything above the tunnel except at the ends. Shallower means cut-and-cover, which means you have to buy out and demolish every home along the train’s path to build. Good luck convincing the Montlake neighborhood to agree to that – if I lived there, I would be rightfully outraged.

      8. Whoops. In my rush to ask how anyone could possibly estimate that Link will earn 75% of BART’s ridership out of the gate (despite being smaller, younger, serving much less populous areas, and following in the footsteps of most of BART’s errors), I didn’t respond to Ben’s most glaring logical error:

        280,000 by 2030. Sure, maybe it’ll end up being 250,000.

        Reminded me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cN3tOI1pwcg&t=17m58s

        “This guy estimates 280,000. Even if he’s lying, it’ll end up being 250,000!”

      9. @d.p.
        Considering how long it’s going to take to build so much of Link, I don’t think even hoverboards are out of the question.
        Throughout our conversation, I’ve noticed that you make quite a few black-and-white statements, such as “node-based systems invariably miss the mark.” (Portland and Vancouver’s Airport Lines have bi-directional stop-spacing that’s about 20% smaller than Central Link, which is a big difference, but I don’t think is the difference of an entire paradigm), saying that 15,000 weekday boardings would make Northgate one of the “among the best-used single rapid transit stations in the United States.” (Times Square – 42nd street gets 166,000 riders, not just per weekday, but per day), implying that no-one will use the Broadway Streetcar that wouldn’t otherwise use public transportation (I know my Dad will, and he hasn’t ridden a metro bus in a decade), and saying that Boston and Washington, D.C. are cities with “10 times the subway usage that anyone expects to ever see in Seattle.” (Both I and Fazel see Seattle as having far more than that someday). I’m not trying to antagonize you, but you seem fast to accuse me of being ridiculous and “research-challenged,” but you make quite a few hyperbolic, false statements, and you haven’t really taken any of them back. I just think we could converse better if you tried to stay off the insults and the characterizations.

        By the way, in one of my posts I did use Metro Area as a prominent statistic, but in a later one, I used urban area (at your recommendation, d.p.)

      10. Fair enough, Cascadian. I usually think it’s pretty obvious when I’ve engaging in a bit of hyperbolic argumentation for the sake of making a point, versus when I’ve citing (or debunking) specific comparative figures. I know that my lapses into hyperbole are often born more of frustration than of a strategic analysis of the best rhetorical approach.

        There’s a limit to the number of times you can read that something conceived an executed on an incredibly flawed model is going to fix all of our transit woes and turn us into Boston or Washington, before you lose your mind a bit and have to reply with an unequivocal (if hyperbolic) “No, it will not!” The other choice is to let the same mistakes get made over and over again.

        [x] times the subway usage that anyone expects to ever see in Seattle.

        Whatever number [x] turns out to be (3x? 5x?), I stand by my assertion that Link will do little to put us even in the ballpark of the real transit cities. It’s just not useful enough. Cities with ingrained transit cultures allow you to get to all of life’s destinations with ease, wherever and whenever they may be. Link simply doesn’t do that, even on its “city segment”. While I fully expect high ridership between U-District and Downtown (despite the flaws in even that leg), I wouldn’t be surprised to see the rest of the network get stuck in “the Denver zone”.

        Vancouver’s Airport Line [has] bi-directional stop-spacing that’s about 20% smaller than Central Link, which is a big difference, but I don’t think is the difference of an entire paradigm.

        This is incorrect. The Canada Line, within city limits, has an average stop spacing of 0.69 miles, an average skewed upward by the existence of two 1.1-mile gaps, both of which are intended (and have been designed and prepared for) infill stations.

        This is a corridor service through-and-through, with stations placed and spaced appropriately for their surroundings and to allow perpendicular connections.

        There is nothing “corridor” about one stop in Capitol Hill, one stop in the U-District, one stop in North Seattle, or 1.7-mile gaps (with the infill station cancelled and declared “politically unpalatable” and the road rebuilt to disallow it) along MLK.

        These are indeed two distinct paradigms: one aimed at maximum coverage and usefulness; the other aimed at maximum speed and distant reach. The world is full of good examples of the former, and woefully lacking in successful precedents for the latter.

        no-one will use the Broadway Streetcar that wouldn’t otherwise use public transportation (I know my Dad will, and he hasn’t ridden a metro bus in a decade)

        I stand by this one too. Your dad may be excited to try out the new trolley. That’s fine — I’ll certainly try it out too, and like the SLUT, I’ll continue to use it in the 20% of circumstances when it wouldn’t be faster to walk — but it is different than actually making a modal switch. Which your dad ain’t gonna to do once he discovers how ridiculously slow and inferior to his current habit of driving it is.

        Sorry, but that’s the truth.

      11. d.p.

        incredibly flawed model is going to fix all of our transit woes and turn us into Boston or Washington

        No one is claiming that. No one is comparing Link favorably to the Boston T or the Washington Metro. If I could trade Link for either I’d do so without hesitation. But we’re comparing it favorably to the status quo.

        Even to the extent that your criticisms are correct, you have no strategy for fixing the problems in the currently planned lines or even in those yet unplanned. You could have latched on to the one organization that’s trying to do work on the next set of rail lines — but you dismissed them because you will never forgive anything in this region for not being the Boston T.

        So all your exaggeration and rhetoric, to the extent it matters at all, just makes it less likely we’ll get more high-quality transit and keep us stuck in Metro hell forever.

      12. Would that be the “organization” that thinks it is aligning every political mover and shake on the same page, yet apparently doesn’t realize that SDOT is still telling the media we’re all getting streetcars?

        Perhaps that’s the “organization” that yells at me on the internet every time I dare suggest we have a contingency plan for less-expensive grade-separated rapid transit just in case we can’t get $6 billion in bonds by assuming the tax base will quadruple in 30 years? Or if I dare worry that all-or-nothing marketing is just going to leave us stuck with a bunch of crappy streetcars?

        Perhaps it’s the “organization” that unleashed this monstrosity upon the world?

        Unfortunately, Martin, Seattle is still full of people who insist — contrary to all precedent, evidence, math, and logic — that node-based “regional systems” are where we must put our rapid transit energies, and that “streetcars are the right fit for getting around the city”. You cannot “[fix] the problems in the currently planned lines or even in those yet unplanned” without first correct basic errors of understanding. I’m truly sorry that my efforts to do so have offended you.

      13. “Look how big the pit is at capitol hill and UW station”

        I think those were extraordinarily large pits to launch the TBMs. At U-District station they only demolished one building where the entrances will be.

      14. “with the infill station [Graham] cancelled and declared “politically unpalatable” and the road rebuilt to disallow it) along MLK.”

        When did this happen?

      15. MLK was redesigned curb-to-curb. Zero provisions were made to allow for future platforms at Graham. Adding even the most basic infill station would be a from-scratch affair.

        Error of omission, not commision.

        In Vancouver, provisions were made to allow the easy addition of two subway stations.

      16. d.p.

        What I find most frustrating about your comments is that if you or I were set up as dictator of transit, we’d build nearly identical systems. The difference is that you dismiss anything sub-optimal as being worthless.

        The emphasis is on regional projects because the State set up ST with a regional governance model, as you well know. Seattle Subway and the SDOT streetcar stuff are the two threads trying to develop a Seattle-only framework that addresses your core objections. But as always you’ve found reasons to reject it all out of hand, leaving yourself to stew on our comment threads. You’re choosing to abandon a movement in the enthusiasm-building pre-engineering phase because you disagree about 2050 throughput in the tunnel: I mean, really?

        I think you underestimate the people you’re arguing with at STB. I’d certainly be happy with the type of system you describe. I’d love it if there were a way to add two or three more stations in Seattle, and I hope in places like Graham St or BAR, where it’s somewhat practical, it’ll happen. When you rail against this stuff, people try to explain why things are the way they are, because understanding the issues is the first step to understanding them. You tend to take that as “Link is awesome” defensiveness. Saying “people in Seattle are stupid” may or may not be true, but it’s not a path to improvement.

        If your analysis is right and we’re getting Denver instead of Portland, that’s still infinitely better than the status quo.

      17. Martin,

        I appreciate you’re taking the time to write this, as well as your honesty and your optimism.

        My oft-expressed fear is that, despite the good intentions of those who wish to study many options and view the post-proviso-lifting work of ST and SDOT as “two threads” of one project, the reality is that Seattle has a history of choosing (by legislative act or by referendum) grossly sub-par projects — not just imperfect, but fatally hobbled. When you have the director of SDOT out there publicly saying that Ballard’s getting a streetcar, the neutrality is already shot.

        Remember when the GW Bush campaign, with the help of Fox, savvily positioned their candidate as the presumptive winner in Florida, with Gore as the sore loser challenging the result on technicalities? From that point on, the election was lost. It doesn’t matter that Gore actually won the state outright; Bush was inevitable.

        Locally, the highway 99 tunnel is the result of the same process: it was the presumption; all other ideas were challengers.

        I fear that’s the path we’re heading down with our streetcars.

        As for “2050 throughput in the tunnel”, I have to disagree with your reading of my back-and-forths with the public face of that campaign. I’ve never objected to doing an engineering work-up of a second DSTT in order to arrive at an accurate assessment of the costs that project would entail. It is Ben who has rejected exploration of multiple grade-separated alternatives out of hand, variously claiming that maintenance bases “need” to be in Interbay, that Brooklyn-Lynnwood “needs” the same level of frequency as Brooklyn-downtown, that the current tunnel cannot handle trains at less than 4 minutes, and that the current platforms will be at their human capacity.

        The first two claims fail to pass the smell test, the third explicitly contradicts the official technical specs, and the fourth is unlikely even if you don’t believe ST’s ridership estimates are inflated.

        I can’t even begin to address the stated belief that Seattle will double or triple in population and in density, which is apparently intrinsic to Ben’s understanding of where both the demand and a sufficient tax base will come from.

        Again, I fear we’ll end up with two options on the table: one that is insanely expensive, and another that is streetcars. And will get the slow, slow streetcars. In that case, I don’t know if we’ll even succeed at being Denver.

        And people aren’t stupid in Seattle, but they are shockingly incurious, in a way that is really hard to explain yet is instantly obvious when seen in contrast to cities with cosmopolitan leanings. Unfortunately, this failure of inquisitiveness and embrace of inertia is directly responsible for our “worst practices” in city-building and transit. I simply don’t know how to counter it.

      18. d.p.

        You’re very gracious.

        I agree wholeheartedly that subway > surface Link > streetcar. I’m personally agnostic about the purple vs. red line debate you’re having with Seattle Subway. Believe me, I know Ben likes to argue.

        But there’s no substitute for engagement on all these fronts.

        Maybe SS can get the Red line built, which I believe would make you happy. Perhaps the Purple line is better and/or more politically viable. Either way, we have to build a consensus that this is a priority for voters and politicians at every level — which is what SS is focusing on right now, and they could use your help. Although Ben is in many ways skeptical of the purple line as a first step, he’s unlikely to aggressively stamp out any effort to study it — it’s in his long-term vision! Moreover, the movement is more than one person, and if your arguments are strong, and the study data supports you, you can carry the board. But you have to be there, not just vent on STB!

        Maybe all this falls on its face and we’re stuck with a streetcar. At least that would solve your stop spacing problem! In that case, there is a critical block-by-block political fight for priority and right of way, and there’s no substitute for showing up to meetings and nagging politicians.

        Or, worst of all, maybe it’s just RapidRide for Ballard in our working lifetimes. Again, at least there’s a framework on which to hang significant route improvements, and we could use your help in helping to win those improvements.

        Deciding that all this is too inadequate to work on, that decent transit is impossible due to intrinsic attributes of people who live in Seattle, means acceptance of the status quo — and all of these outcomes are better than that.

    2. Thank You d.p. and CB for a well thought out, civil dialog on why you favor, or not, the current thinking on N.Link in general. This is the kind of discussion that prompts critical thinking, eventually resulting in consensus opinion.
      I’ve firmly believed in mass transit (yes even subways when appropriate), since the vote in 1988 passed asking Metro to begin planning for rail. Heck I even stood on freeway overpasses in the rain holding up VOTE YES, signs to create ST1 as one of the 3 co-founders of Transportation Choices.
      But we are not building a world class transportation system. We’re dismantling our core bus systems (Metro, PT, and CT), while pouring billions into a rail system that, in my opinion, will serve far fewer riders than it claims, and certainly will not make up for all the trips being lost on our bus systems. This is not progress, if you look at transit from the big picture, not just ST versus MT, and we have our money and they have theirs.
      Hell, it’s the same money if you just go back one step to the taxpayer, before the pot gets divided.
      Anyway, this is a great discussion to have. Bravo fellow transit supporters. PS, I’d gladly trade what we are doing for what Vancouver has done – with cash left over.

      1. Hey, (Mic), always interesting to get cantankerous with you. I had no idea your transit advocacy went back that far.

        I think that if we were to discuss Metro, though, we might find a lot less common ground. After the perpetual fiasco that is RapidRide, I frankly wonder if “dismantling our core bus system” — starving the beast into making efficiency choices out of necessity that it has refused to make of its own volition — might not be the way to go.

      2. I suspect you’re right, but think of all the pain caused to riders waiting for buses that never show up, or ones that do, but just keep on motoring on because there jammed packed with sardines.
        The leadership will still be sitting at comfy desks on the 4th floor and the council will still be doing whatever they do.
        It’s a draconian method of reform you ask for, sort of like rebuilding Tokyo after WWII. I can’t accept a fire storm to wipe the slate clean, but marvel at what they accomplished in spite of it.

      3. “We’re dismantling our core bus systems (Metro, PT, and CT), while pouring billions into a rail system that, in my opinion, will serve far fewer riders than it claims, and certainly will not make up for all the trips being lost on our bus systems”

        The money not going to the core bus system was not shifted to Link. Link was voted for as a capital project. The bus agencies’ shortfall is due to the Legislature refusing to give them a revenue stream to replace the sales-tax money that vanished in the recession, or to increase transit to match demand. That’s why we’re going through this idiotic kill-Lakeside-Avenue-service-to-give-Greenwood-the-frequency-it-deserves. A proper transit system would increase the 5 and decrease the 27 according to their independent merits, not cut one off completely off-peak to fund the other. If we cancel Link now or had never approved it, it would not improve Metro’s circumstances now. There must be a limit on what taxpayers are willing to fund, but we don’t know what it is. We did keep ST1 and ST2 smallish to avoid a possible tax revolt: AND THAT’S WHY D.P. ISN’T GETTING HIS TWO MORE CAPITOL HILL STATIONS!!! It’s also why the Rainier Valley segment is not underground running at 55 mph, and why the Graham station was deferred.

        “will serve far fewer riders than it claims”

        I don’t care about ridership numbers. I care about fast/frequent/reliable service when I go to the U-district, Northgate, etc. If you build it, they will come. Whether it adds up to 15,000 or not is unimportant to me, although I realize ST has to care about it. I care more about whether the stations are well used, and whether there’s many destinations and feeder buses around them. The presence of a station can affect future land-use and feeder-bus decisions, even if the initial decisions are mediocre.

        “Most of Capitol Hill is NOT served”

        It addresses the major bulk of riders. Its 10-minute walkshed covers upper Broadway, SCCC, and most of the highest-density housing. It includes a highly-used park, Cal Anderson. At the margin it gives a mediocre walk to the 15th Ave businesses, Seattle University, and the edge of First Hill — enough to attract some riders from the 2 and 12. Whenever the 10,11,43,49 go past Broadway, a third or half the bus gets off

        Maybe it would have been better with stations at 15th and 23rd. But there are tradeoffs for everything. They would have cost millions of dollars, and that would have run the risk of Link not being built at all. See, there are ten riders in the single-family walkshed of 23rd & Aloha. There are thousands of taxpayers who doubt a station at 23rd & Aloha is justified. If ST had built a cut-and-cover tunnel (which I don’t know if it was considered or would have been cheaper), people would have bitched about having their street torn up for several years.

        Also, the route was subject to a mid-course change: it originally was going to go near the University Bridge but was changed to the Montlake Bridge. That happened at a fortunate time when ST both found a more viable way to get under the Ship Canal and found enough leftover money in ST 1 to do it. They didn’t reopen the question of stations at that time, which is why 15th and 23rd weren’t seriously considered. But I don’t recall any activists making a lot of noise about those stations either, which could have caused ST to reopen the issue or at least issue a cost/benefit report.

        My biggest criterion for a station is whether it would attract people from outside the neighborhood. Residents will use it regardless, but it’s the non-residents who can double the station usage. That gets into how many destinations are around the station, and how willing the neighborhood is to add them in the future. With this criterion, Broadway is a no-brainer, 15th would be a minor advantage, and 23rd would be hardly any advantage. If 23rd wants a Link station, it can upzone! A

        nd don’t poo-poo the feeder buses. Link stations at 23rd & Aloha or 15th & Republican would obviously be very convenient for immediate residents. But transferring to Link at Capitol Hill station or UW station is still a significant improvement over the status quo. You yourself have mentioned how it can take 15 minutes to get from Westlake to Capitol Hill station on a bus. And if their destination is not downtown or UW, Link is an immense advantage over the existing 10,43,49. Transfer at Roosevelt for Greenwood, for instance.

      4. Sorry for being less than clear, Mike (Orr). That post was already so much longer than I wanted it to be.

        23rd & Aloha

        When I mentioned Pine-Aloha-Boston, I was presuming that a “normal” urban non-deep-bore subway — of the sort that only Montreal, Toronto, and D.C. have built in North American in the last half century — would probably proceed to the U-District under Broadway, 10th E, and Campus Parkway. So those cross-streets would have served the entire Broadway corridor. There was never any “23rd & Aloha”.

        The ideal locations for additional deep bore stations would have been somewhere under the 15th E strip and somewhere around Montlake. This would have made the subway exponentially more relevant, but the costs would have been high.

        don’t poo-poo the feeder buses.

        It’s not me. It’s all the people who will never use them, and will just keep driving because to 90% of the city it will remain easier to drive.

        Again, there’s a huge difference between perpendicular cross-transit — frequent, logical, and easy to transfer to — which can vastly expand the reach of subway lines… and the kind of circuitous, infrequent, all-around crappy feeder service that Metro is guaranteed to come up with.

        This will remain a driving city. I won’t actual relish saying “I told you so”, but it will probably need to be said.

      5. Does non-deep-bore mean cut-and-cover? Is that possible given Capitol Hill’s steepness and light rail’s inability to climb hills?

        Re 15th and 23rd, I was guessing where the track would cross them.

        My comment about transferring at 65th for Greenwood was not a good example because it currently has a one-seat ride on the 48, although some people propose splitting it for reliability. My point was that Link can go from UW station to Roosevelt station a lot faster than a bus. It would be a more dramatic difference where there’s no one-seat bus, as in from 23rd to Lake City.

      6. I would presume it would have been built using the same mix-and-match-where-appropriate tunneling methods that built the Montreal Metro, the Washington Metro, and the TTC Subway.

        The “49 corridor” doesn’t really contain any slopes in excess of what rail can handle, though I don’t doubt there would have been a need for deep boring in the North Capitol Hill area to even out the changes in grade, or to get to the floor of the canal.

        Obviously, these are all hypotheticals, but there’s an engineering solution to every problem, but first you need to define your intent. Declare that you want an urban subway, and you can make it happen. (Sometimes it turns out to be even cheaper than the engineering solution to the other plan.)

        The problem is that the political powers never had an urban intent.

        Transfer at Roosevelt for Greenwood, for instance.

        Yes, the existence of 65th as a semi-consistent east-west corridor provides an opportunity for easy perpendicular connections, if Metro can resist the temptation to fuck it up. easy connection to East Ravenna; okay connection to Greenwood (hampered by traffic around Green Lake).

        But your hypothetical rider in outer Capitol Hill is still screwed. There’s the arduous 43 connection to the train, which is guaranteed to still suck, followed by 2-3 stops on the train, followed again by the additional (possibly improved) transfer.

        If that person owns a car, that person is going to drive! I’m sorry. This is what happens when you compromise and require crappy feeders for too many trips: people drive.

      7. “arduous 43 connection to the train”

        Arduous? The 43 and 48 travel quite well on 23rd/24th except for the 520 bottleneck. The corridor is in the TMP for frequency and road improvements. If our person lives on John/Thomas, it’s a very quick trip to Capitol Hill station, marred only by the double turn at 15th.

      8. Mike, dude, what part of current 43 service feels like part of a “rapid transit journey that could reasonably replace driving” to you?

        Because that’s the only kind of service that will get people out of cars.

        You need to start looking at these things from the perspective of non-transit enthusiasts.

      9. rapid transit journey that could reasonably replace driving… that’s the only kind of service that will get people out of cars.

        Not necessarily. ST’s seen a nice bump over last year in part due to higher gas prices and the addition of tolls on 520. If transit can remain constant, which can be achieved with grade separation, signal priority, headways and cost control all you have to do is wait for driving to get worse. And I don’t see it getting much better; at least not for a SOV.

  9. NOW HIRING – SEATAC STREET WALKERS (no experience needed)
    ST’s trip planner has yet to figure out how to get off RR-A onto a link train.
    Instead, it has you wandering around PacHwy for over 20 minutes. Computers – gotta love them!
    I asked for an 8am trip from FedWay to Rainier Beach Stn, midweek.
    Walk from International Blvd & S 176th St to Seatac Link Light Rail Station
    1. Walk south on International Blvd.
    2. Turn right at Access Rd.
    3. Walk west on Access Rd.
    4. Turn left at International Blvd.
    5. Walk south on International Blvd.
    6. Turn right at S 182nd St.
    7. Walk west on S 182nd St.
    8. Walk northwest on Seatac Access Road.
    21 min (0.7 mi)

    1. I had a similar experience last week connecting between a ST express and a Metro local at night. Trip Planner told me to take the 542 to south downtown and wait an hour for the 12. I second guessed its advice and found that I could get off at 5th and Pine and have about 7 minutes to transfer to the 10. What the hell?! Glad I didn’t trust Trip Planner to plan my trip.

  10. Finally got the eight Metro passes that come with paying the extra $20 Congestion Reduction Transit Surcharge. Took a month to get. That’s not awful even if mailing them with the tabs which arrive in less than a week would save money (the bill comes in the same mailing). Surprise! They expire at the end of October. I wonder how many people that might use these “free” passes to say take transit DT on Black Friday will be fervent anti-transit voters when they open the envelope at Thanksgiving only to find the passes have expired. I for one sure thought they’d be like Metro Script or last a year like your car tabs do.

    1. A friend of mine who never takes buses anywhere was biking with me and he brought his free tickets so we could cross the 520 bridge. It was such fun, let me tell you, to try to explain to him why we had to wait for a 255/271 while watching two 545s pass us.

  11. Question. Over the weekend I saw a RR bus on NE 20th. It as signed as TRM which I’m guessing means Terminal? What is this designation vs “Out of Service” or “EB” (East Base) and why would the bus have been heading east on NE 20th crossing 140th?

    1. “To terminal” means the bus is headed to one end of its route. The bus you saw could have been headed to Redmond to begin its run.

      1. That makes sense, sort of and was what I was going to guess. But it seems like a rather inefficient use of Platform hours vs start/finish at BTC. This was mid-day but even for the fist run wouldn’t it make more sense to start buses at 4:21AM in opposite directions from Crossroads since I’ betting that’s where most of the Oh’Dark Thirty riders are originating.

  12. SoundTransit is going to have to do this for light rail. Whenever I ride light rail I tap my Orca card prior to boarding and then when I get off. I always see at least 10 people who get off between Westlake and Mount Baker which are the stations I primarily use when I ride light rail, who don’t tap. There is no ride free for light rail so they are scamming the system and hoping not to get fare checked. To me that is wrong. There are those who will take the risk, just like people who drive without insurance.

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